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Rolls-Royce sets Chinese goal
( 2003-10-14 00:53) (China Daily)

Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Ltd, the world's top limousine manufacturer, expects to sell 50 vehicles on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong this year.

The figure will account for 25 per cent of the company's sales in the Asia-Pacific region, which ranges from Japan to India and from China to New Zealand, said Colin Kelly, regional director of its Asia-Pacific operations.

The regional sales will account for 20 per cent of the company's total annual output of about 1,000 vehicles worldwide, he said.

"The first thing for us in China is to establish our brand,'' Kelly told China Daily earlier this week when the company unveiled the new Rolls-Royce Phantom limousine and opened a display room in Beijing.

"We have done a lot on the new vehicle. It is totally different from the previous car. We now have a new design, new manufacturing plant, new work force and new dealers.''

The company was taken over at the beginning of the year by German luxury carmaker BMW AG from Volkswagen Group, Europe's biggest automaker which is based in Germany. Rolls-Royce's former ally, Bentley, is still controlled by Volkswagen.

The 6.7-litre Phantom will retail from between 5.45 million yuan (US$658,200) and 5.85 million yuan (US$706,500) on the Chinese mainland, according to the company.

"We believe the Rolls-Royce population in China will swell because more and more rich Chinese will be able to afford our vehicles as a result of the nation's steady economic growth,'' said John Wong, general manager of the company's Chinese mainland and Hong Kong operations.

At present, there are already around 50 Rolls-Royce limousines on the mainland and 1,000 in Hong Kong.

"Our major customers in China are upstart entrepreneurs of privately owned businesses,'' Wong said.

The company also has display rooms in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong Province.

Rolls-Royce now has a maximum production capacity of 1,200 units a year. Its biggest single market is the United States.

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